CWU’s network engineers work to solve on-campus connectivity issues

Joseph Stanger, Staff Reporter

CWU’s networks provide service to students, staff and guests all across campus, but when a sudden outage can mean the difference between getting an assignment in on time and having to turn it in late, it’s important to have a consistent connection.

“It gets to the point where I’ll have to be relogging into stuff and doing two-factor authentication,” said Sion Bailie, a junior geology major. “But because there’s no Wi-Fi and there’s no data in [Dean Hall], you can’t get anything done.”

Bailie, who lives in an apartment off campus, said they’d spend more time on campus if the internet was faster. 

“It’s a lot easier to connect with people who are in my classes by staying on campus than trying to come home and do my projects and then go back to my other classes,” Bailie said.

Nathan Pickett, another junior geology major living in an off-campus apartment, also said he and his classmates wouldn’t go back home to do schoolwork if the speeds on campus were sufficient.

“I hear it coming from a lot of other people too,” Pickett said. “People just go home to do their homework sometimes just because it’s so slow.”

Campus’ Senior Network Engineer, Chris Timmons, said he recognizes the value of good service and that he’s been in an ongoing dialogue with buildings and departments across campus regarding how they can improve. 

“From my perspective as a network engineer … we want Central to be a welcoming place and the wireless is one of those things that people use when they’re here,” Timmons said.

According to Timmons, one project the university is working on is with a capacity issue between the core of campus and the far north of campus. To fix this, the university is installing additional fiber optic cables.

“That won’t necessarily improve service,” Timmons said. “But it’ll make it easier to add additional services later.”

Timmons said they’re also working with the housing team in Barto hall to replace all of the access points, which will improve connectivity.

“The pandemic kind of threw a wrench into the timing we were looking for,” Timmons said. “But that work will probably get done sometime during calendar year 2022.”

Timmons said that ultimately these decisions come down to money and decision making by the higher-ups at the university.

“The challenge is there’s so much infrastructure and relatively smaller amounts of dollars,” Timmons said. “Instructional uses are competing for those dollars, so it’s something the executives have to decide based on the needs.”

If you or anyone else on campus is having issues with your connection, Timmons said you should reach out to the IT Service Desk.

“If you have those problems, put a ticket in and someone will take a look at it,” Timmons said. “Hopefully, we can make it better.”